Saturday, February 19, 2011

Crispy Chicken in Sweet and Sour Sauce

Crispy chicken in sweet & sour sauce / Krõbe kana magushapus kastmes

My Estonian Nami-Nami site is currently hosting a Chinese food Cook-Off, and this crispy chicken in sweet and sour sauce has proved immensely popular. I won't give you a recipe here, but send you to my dear friend, the very passionate Johanna, who blogged about Crispy chicken balls with home-made sweet & sour sauce exactly three years ago.

The only changes I made to Johanna's recipe was to use 2 large chicken breasts (about 500 g) instead of four to feed four people, and I doubled the amount of sauce. Excellent - K. had a whopping three helpings and our daughter loved the sauce-covered crispy chicken pieces a lot as well.

Thank you, dear Johanna! Who knows, perhaps we can cook some Chinese food in your Singapore kitchen together one day ;)

Eestikeelne retsept: Krõbe kana magushapus kastmes

  NB For other Chinese recipes here on Nami-Nami, click here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cabbage & buckwheat kasha recipe

Buckwheat & cabbage / Kapsa-tatrahautis

It's time for another buckwheat recipe here on Nami-Nami. The inspiration for this recipe is from an Estonian author Aive Luigela (we share the publisher :)), but I've adapted it slightly. It's an excellent dish for those who are trying to shed some post-Christmas (or post-pregnancy) pounds - light in calories, yet surprisingly packed with flavour.

Note that buckwheat is naturally gluten-free, so it's a suitable and tasty grain alternative to all those who need to avoid gluten. Use oil for a vegan version. 

Buckwheat with Cabbage
Serves 4

2 Tbsp oil or butter
150 g buckwheat groats
300 g white cabbage, shredded
750 ml (3 cups) boiling water
0.5-1 tsp salt
1 tsp caster sugar
fresh lovage or dill, chopped

First, you may need to toast the buckwheat. The buckwheat we usually use in Estonia is pre-roasted and dark brown, so this can be skip this stage. If you're using the "light" buckwheat groats, then roast them on a dry hot skillet for about 5-6 minutes, until it's nicely toasty and aromatic.

Heat the oil in a large high frying pan/sauté pan. Add the buckwheat and sauté for a couple of minutes, stirring every now and then.
Add the cabbage and boiling water. Season with half a teaspoon of salt. Cover the saucepan with a lid, reduce heat and simmer on a low heat for about 30 minutes, until the cabbage is soft and buckwheat cooked.
Season with sugar and more salt, if necessary. Sprinkle fresh herbs on top and serve.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Smoked salmon and potato gratin

Potato and salmon gratin / Kartuli-suitsulõhevorm

It's not always about lamb's tongue in Nami-Nami kitchen, you know. Most of the time I cook - and we eat - perfectly "normal" food. Here is one of my favourite weekday dishes. It's not exactly quick - that is to say, it won't be on your table within half an hour of walking in the door - but if you're at home anyway, just unable to stand in the kitchen watching keenly over your Sauce Bearnaise, then this is for you. It needs about 15 minutes of active involvement and then it simply cooks in your oven. Ideal for a mum like me :)

I've made this both with hot smoked salmon and cold smoked salmon over the years. I slightly prefer the latter one, but it's lovely with both.

Smoked salmon and potato gratin
(Kartulivorm suitsulõhega)
Serves 4

750 g potatoes
100 g smoked salmon, sliced
handful of fresh dill, chopped
2 large eggs
200 ml fresh cream
100 ml milk
freshly ground black pepper

Wash the potatoes, peel and cut into thin slices or matchsticks (I used the thick julienne cutter in my food processor).
Butter a medium-sized oven dish (I used a 30 cm round dish). Scatter half of the potatoes in the dish, sprinkle with dill and layer with salmon slices. Top with the remaining potatoes.
Season with black pepper.
Whisk eggs with cream and milk and pour evenly over the potatoes.
Bake in a pre-heated 175 C oven for about 1 hour, until potatoes are cooked (the exact time depends on the thickness of your potato slices or matchsticks).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lamb's tongue

Rye bread, lamb's tongue, beetroot & horseradish spread
Homemade Estonian rye bread, sliced lamb's tongue and horseradish, beetroot and cream cheese spread.

There may have been a time when I was (at least occasionally) a kind of culinary trendsetter among Estonian foodbloggers, introducing exciting new flavours. Not any more - being stuck at home in a suburb without a car and two little kids means that I am the last one to visit newly opened cafés, I miss all the exciting restaurant review events and am the last one to hear about the best source for exciting ingredients. Take lamb's tongue. There were several local foodbloggers singing praise to this humble delicacy (first Piret, then Tuuli, followed by Zoozi), and I spent days restlessly dreaming about those little tongues. Finally, on Saturday, I demanded a trip to a new (and currently the best) market in town and returned with a whole kilogram of lamb's tongue (it's _very_ cold here and our little son turned 1 month old only today, hence the reluctance to venture out earlier). What a delight (if you like tongue, that is)!

Lamb's tongue / Tallekeel

My dear K. was kind enough to take a nice photo of them (above; apparently inspired by the movie "Saw III" that he saw recently - I cannot comment, as I refused to join him and watch this), and then let me proceed with the dish. Well, preparing lamb's tongue for use in other dishes (like the open sandwich on top and below) is the easiest thing ever. Here's what you do.

Lamb's tongue
(Keedetud tallekeel)

1 kg lamb's tongue (I had 17 pieces)
cold water
1 large onion, halved (no need to peel)
1 large celery stick (break into 3-4 pieces)
2 bay leaves
10 whole black peppercorns
5 whole allspice berries
few parsley sprigs
1 tsp salt

Rinse the tongues under cold water, place into a large saucepan and cover with fresh cold water. Bring it to a slow boil, skimming off any froth that emerges on top.
Then add the onion, celery, bay leaves and seasoning. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 50-60 minutes, until cooked (test with a sharp knife).
Cool a little, then peel the tongues (as the tongues are quite small and there are many of them, it will take a bit of time).
Serve as they are (sliced thinly, on top of an open sandwich) or use to make salads or whatever else you fancy.

Rye bread, lamb's tongue, beetroot & horseradish spread

Have you had lamb's tongue before? And what's your favourite way to prepare/eat it? I'm already looking forward to buying and preparing lamb's tongue again, so any cool suggestions are welcome.

Other foodbloggers writing about lamb's tongue:
Ryan @ Nose to Tail at Home
Florian @ Food Perestroika

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Chickpea and tomato soup with Moroccan spices

Moroccan chickpea soup / Maroko kikerhernesupp

Here's a delicious chickpea/grabanzo soup recipe adapted from this book by the lovely Irish chef, Rachel Allen. It's quick, flavoursome, vegan and gluten-free (unless you serve it with crispy bacon or some herb croutons) and easy to make. It's been a while since I made it - seeing one of the few Estonian male foodbloggers making this the other day (check out the video!) - brought it back to our table. Our daughter loved it, K. loved it, and I loved it - so it's definitely a keeper. Hope you enjoy it, too!

I used canned chickpeas - dried ones are much harder to come by here in Estonia. If you prefer using dried chickpeas, then take 150 grams of pulses, soak them overnight in cold water and then boil in unsalted water for about half an hour.

Moroccan chickpea and tomato soup
(Maroko kikerhernesupp)
Serves four

Moroccan chickpea soup / Maroko kikerhernesupp

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp cumin seeds, slightly crushed
400 g can of chopped tomatoes
a generous pinch of sugar
400 g can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
600-750 ml vegetable or chicken broth
juice of half a lemon
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro/coriander or parsley

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and celery sticks, season with salt and pepper. Cover the saucepan with a lid and sauté over low heat for about 10 minutes, until the onion and celery are soft, stirring every now and then (do not burn!)
Add the cumin seeds, fry for another minute to release the aromas.
Add the tomatoes, sugar, chickpeas and hot stock. Simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes.
Season with lemon juice, stir in the chopped herbs and taste for seasoning. Serve.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Nasu dengaku or miso-glazed aubergine

You'll get two Japanese recipes in a row now - on Friday I blogged about tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlets, Japanese style) today's blog post is dedicated to nasu dengaku or miso-glazed aubergine/eggplant. I first made this for the Japanese feast at our place back in summer 2009 (pictured above), but I've made them on several occasions since (and it has become one of my favourite cousin Ingrid's favourite dishes ever).

It's an easy and very flavoursome dish to make. All you need is some nice small aubergines (slim Japanese ones are best, but ordinary bulbous ones will do), some miso paste (I used hatcho and shiro miso pastes) and sesame seeds. I was lucky to use an additive-free dark hatcho miso that's typical to the Aichi Prefecture in Japan (thank you, Ryoko!!!):

HELP me identify this miso: hacho miso?

Here's the recipe, should you want to make this at home, using the non-Japanese eggplants:

Nasu dengaku
(Eestikeelne retsept)
Serves four to six

Nasu dengaku / Grilled aubergine with miso topping / Grillitud pommu misokattega

1 large or 2 smaller eggplants/aubergines
vegetable oil

6 Tbsp miso paste
4 Tbsp mirin or sweet rice wine
2 Tbsp sake or dry sherry
2 Tbsp caster sugar

sesame seeds

Rinse and dry the eggplant and cut into 1 cm thick slices, crosswise. Make some slashes with a sharp knife onto one side of the vegetable slices. Brush both sides with oil, then place onto an oven sheet and bake in a 200 C oven for 15-20 minutes, turning once - you want the aubergine slices to be nicely brown on top. (Alternatively - fry on a griddle pan until golden brown on both sides).
Place the grilled/fried aubergine slices onto a large oven sheet - or even better, onto a heat-proof serving tray - on one layer:

Nasu dengaku / Grilled aubergine with miso topping / Grillitud pommu misokattega

Make the miso glaze. Mix all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring slowly to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring all the time, until the glaze is thickened slightly and nice and shiny. Remove from the heat.

Nasu dengaku / Grilled aubergine with miso topping / Grillitud pommu misokattega

Spread a spoonful of miso-glaze on each aubergine/eggplant slice, sprinkle some sesame seeds on top.

Put under a hot grill for a few minutes, then serve either hot or at room temperature.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Tonkatsu or fried pork cutlet, Japanese style

Tonkatsu with cabbage and tonkatsu sauce / Tonkatsu

Dinner on Wednesday - tonkatsu aka fried pork cutlet with brown tonkatsu sauce and shredded cabbage. Tonkatsu is a popular Western-style dish in Japan, and it's basically thinly sliced pork that's been dredged in flour, dipped into egg, breaded in panko breadcrumbs and then fried until crispy and golden brown. You can read all about this particular dish either here or here. I'll be definitely making this again, as I loved the super-crispy and almost crunchy coating achieved by the use of panko breadcrumbs as opposed to ordinary breadcrumbs.

(Tonkatsu ehk paneeritud sealiha Jaapani moodi)
Serves 4

ca 500 g pork fillet
all-purpose flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 eggs
panko breadcrumbs (I used shop-bought panko breadcrumbs*)

For the tonkatsu sauce:
soy sauce
Worcestershire sauce
freshly ground black pepper.

Cut the pork filet into thin slices, about 5 mm thick.
Take three bowls, filling one with flour (seasoned with salt and pepper), one with whisked egg and one with Panko breadcrumbs.
Dredge the pork slices first in flour, then dip them into egg and finally into breadcrumbs. Make sure that the pork slices are evenly coated.
Heat a generous amount of oil in a heavey frying pan over moderate heat. Fry the breaded pork slices until golden brown on both sides (about 3-4 minutes per side).
Place onto a kitchen paper to drain any excess fat and keep warm.

To make a cheat's tonkatsu sauce, mix ketchup with some soy and Worcestershire sauce and season to taste with black pepper. Drizzle over pork slices.

Traditionally this is served with shredded white cabbage (you may want to crisp it up by soaking the cabbage in cold water; drain thoroughly).

* Available in Piprapood, Tallinn.